Monthly Archives: January 2007

Barzanji at a Muslim Wedding

I’m glad that my journey in writing this piece about mawlid barzanji, has actually enriched my knowledge in my faith.  

The month my brother got married I was excited and  looking forward to my mother and aunts and the whole women of the village to recite a poetic biography of the Holy Prophet Sall’Allahu ‘alaihi wa Sallam with his birth as its main theme.

Mom is seen here in yellow baju kurung

They gathered at my house the morning before the wedding feast and recited the verses. It was breath taking actually.  

Click  below to view the video recording of this event :


by Hajah Marfo’a Banioo & the village women of Kg Parit Tegak, Parit Sulong, Batu Pahat Johor 

 More readings on mawlid barzanji may be found at the below links:



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Eid around the corner

Sometimes 24 hours is just not enough. The energy I have inside of me is not enough to use 24 hours to do things.But then again if I use the 24 for work, I’m only paid 8 hours.

By right, 8 hours is not enough. Contemplating on that, I just think maybe I just have too much to do and too little time to do it. First there was the coming of Syawal. There were things to buy and things to be figured out and things to plan. I come from a huge extended family and this year, being so close to my grandmother’s house, I thought I was going to have it easy. Let everyone do the big brunch party and me and my mom can just swing our lazy legs back home, wait till my dad and brothers come back from the mosque and gobble up happily the ketupat, lodeh & semur ayam.

Then, the unexpected happened. Late Saturday night of October 14, 2006, my grandmother’s house was burnt down to ashes. My dad, didn’t want to raise the alarm only told me the news the next day.

Nenek’s house before the blaze

Nenek’s house after the blaze


Poor Nenek. It was only a week before Syawal and now she was left with only her clothes on her body and it was my dad who had to put a roof over her head now. The issue of “swinging our lazy legs” was just a wishful thinking. I kept wondering how will we manage to put 13 uncles and aunts and their family under our small roof for the celebrations of the coming of Syawal. How will I ever manage to cook ketupat, lodeh & semur ayam plus rendang for that much people. Usually it was my duty to cook because I promised myself that for any celebrations, it was a time for my mother to rest and let me do the cooking. Besides, I never come home often enough to see my family and they are taking care of the only daughter I have. I never took advantage of the fact that Aliya was with them. My father who always wanted the best said that no maid, no babysitter will be good enough to take care of her and insisted that she went to a kampong school with good religious teachings and be surrounded with things that are positive in the upbringing of a child who will turn into a teenager in 6 years time.

We arrive a day away from the coming of Syawal and mom was already busy in the kitchen. I was surprised to see a lot of food on the table, much of it were ketupat, lodeh & semur ayam plus rendang. What miracle can this be? I had forgotten that there was this tradition that goes around the village where my parents live now, one to two weeks before the coming of Syawal. Its called Ngunjung. It’s the act of cooking the ketupat, lodeh & semur ayam plus rendang and as much as you can, distribute it amongst your family. This would mean, the ones in your village and the one’s maybe 2 to 3 villages apart. This year, my parents, coming from a life that was not so carefree and was well organized back when they lived in the city, decide that things should follow a carefully planned duty roster. Out of the 13 siblings that he has, 5 of them and their families live nearby. My mother has 6 siblings and about 2 of them live nearby as well….again with their families and their families’ family. So 3 families would at least do a cook-out and sent out the stuff to be distributed a complete dish of ketupat, lodeh & semur ayam or rendang. One set of dish for one family. Since my grandmother was with me, they sent over 2 sets. And in the case of my aunty who’s daughter (my cousin) lived with my aunt, with husband and their daughter (my cousin niece) who was already married and had a kid (my grandniece), that meant 3 sets. My mother said it was the best last week before the coming of Syawal. The only day she felt that her knees where going to crumble was the day when it was our family’s turn to do the cook-out. The rest of the days went by like breeze and she didn’t have to even cook but see all those glorious food on the table. I totally forgot about my husband and daughter because it was like a long awaited reunion with the dishes I only see once in a year. Just a bit of everything to savour that wonderful soft meaty rice cooked in fresh coconut leaves woven so carefully together. I was torned between the black or the yellow gravy that had all kinds of vegetables, even to the young bark of a coconut tree (umbut) that was cruncy. Then came the sweet salty and fragrant gravy of home grown chicken, boiled and then cooked in soya sauce, a bit of coconut milk and sauté onions, star of anise, cinnamon and garlic. As I ate I saw the long rows of cookie and biscuit jars on my mother’s kitchen cabinet. I saw the huge containers of banana crisp and rempeyek (savoury crisp with peanuts on top). I also saw the tapioca crisp, savoury and plain. I saw the cute containers they were going to be put in. I saw the packets of dodol (springy confectionary made from coconut milk & palm sugar) Somehow, a little girl inside of me screamed out “Esok hari raya…esok hari raya” (It will be Eid tomorrow…it will be Eid tomorrow)

Mom entertaining her nieces & nephews and greatgran nieces & nephews in the kitchen

We waited in the living room to take turn to eat..he he he

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Cooking 2 Your Husband’s Heart

When I was 7 years old my mother told me this:

“Orang perempuan kalau ijazah tinggi menggunung pun akhirnya duduk ceruk dapur jugak”

Translated : Even how high your qualifications are, you’ll still end up in the kitchen.
Sounds harsh. I think the equivalence to this is, a way through to your man’s heart is through his stomach.

I guess some of my friends beg to differ. Some MAN are just different. But I know my MAN loves to eat. The only problem is that I am from a different state and he is from a different state.

I come from a state full of clear soups and noodles and lots and lots of soy sauce. I think we have soy sauce with everything…even with crushed garlic and Capsicum frutescens chillies (also know as african birdseye peri-peri or malagueta) mixed into a sauce (sambal kicap) as a dip with fried banana fritters.

Sambal Kicap (Hot Soy Sauce Dip) 

 2 cloves of Garlic 
african birdseye peri-peri or malagueta cillies
Salted Soy Sauce 
2 tablespoon of sugar 


Pound garlic, sugar and cillies in a motar until fine. 
Pour in Salted Soy Sauce and mix well. 
Place in a air-tight jar until to be served.

Sambal Kicap also makes a great dip for Tempe Fritters and Fried Fish. Compliments SOTO NASI IMPIT as well.

Banana Fritters

Traditional Mortar

We have semur ayam for Hari Raya and don’t really favor rendang ayam. Some people from the other states consider that as weird. Ultimately weird especially when its just plain nature that Rendang is for Hari Raya.


Infact, I can’t imagine Eidul Fitri without semur ayam and ketupat.

Semur Ayam (Chicken cooked in Soy Sauce Gravy)

Ketupat (Rice wrapped with Coconut Leaves)  

Mu husband, Jai is from Penang where people have curries and rice for breakfast called nasi kandar. He just loves curries; fish, mutton, beef and chicken. He drinks curries like soup. He craves for parpu almost every week, having it with roti canai ( also known as roti prata) or with rice.




So I thought I had it all figured out when my mom gave me intensive training in cookery and had become an expert by the age of 15 when my grandmum gave a green light after cooking with the wood stove at her house. That was, after all the smoke in my eyes and the black charcoal stain I had on my face.


You see, old wise malay people use to say, if you don’t know how to cook, you get a husband who can cook. If you are an EXPERT on cooking, you’ll get a husband who not only KNOWS how to cook but loves the food you don’t know how to cook!


Ladies and Gentlemen..thats me.

I guess it was written in the stars they say.


Recently I got a very very very nice birthday present that glimmers on my fingers from my husband *hint hint*


So I decided to “upgrade” culinary abilities and thanked my husband in special way. I read all I could on the art of curries. Took a short course with his cousin Abby (shame on me, his cousin is a HE and he cooks wonderful amazing curries) and decided to test the theories :- a way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.


Certified Curry Master – ABBY

Armed with the appropriate curry powder and the art of mixing the pounded ingredients to a nice paste, then frying the paste in a mixture of margarine and cooking oil, I decided to prepare a DECENT curry for my beloved husband.


The outcome of this:






Hey..I think I went overboard. HE HE HE. Yes I did prepare the sardines curry with potatoes. And then I decided to prepare:


Kangkung goreng belacan (water spinach – Ipomoea aquatica with chillies & shrimp paste)


Egg omelet with chillies, big onions, garlic and tomatoes



Aromatic fried chicken liver (marinated with paste (or bumbu) made from salt, garlic, fresh turmeric roots (kunyit hidup), aniseed (jintan) & coriander seeds(ketumbar)


For desert, sliced Navel oranges

For drinks punch made from mixed lychee syrup with tropical fruit cordial


We had dinner later together with Abby and all beloved darling future husband could say was :


“Waaaa so many stuff to eat…must want something from me aa. The ring not big enough aa dear??”




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The Start Of…

The Start Of Something Extra Ordinary…usually begins with something ordinary and simple. 

Like a simple wedding & Akad but the Kadi gives an extra ordinary wonderful, informative and thoughtful khutbah…

Or a simple tickle that brings out an extra ordinary smile…

or an ordinary girl with an extra ordinary glow on her first day in kindergarten..

And boys that grew into extra ordinary men…

And the ordinary mother and aunt who became extra ordinary ladies who guided us.



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